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Reflexology

What Is It?
How Does It Work?
What Happens During Treatment?
What Is It Used For?
Side Effects/Cautions
Recommended Books


What Is It?
Reflexology is the technique of applying pressure to specific areas on the soles of the feet (reflex points), to relieve ailments in other parts of the body. According to reflexologists, the body is divided into zones which are mirrored in the feet and hands. Massaging specific zones on the feet promotes healing in corresponding zones of the body.

Massaging of the feet as a health treatment can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Japanese and Indians. However, the modern form of reflexology grew out of a system called “zone therapy”, which was developed by American physician and surgeon William Fitzgerald in the early 20th century. Zone therapy was used mainly to treat pain, and involved massaging the feet, hands and tongue. An early practitioner of zone therapy, Eunice Ingham, found that the feet were the most effective areas to manipulate, and that this treatment could relieve other ailments besides pain. Ingham created maps of the feet that showed how certain “reflex points” related to other parts of the body. For example, the toes correspond to the head and neck, the ball of the foot mirrors the chest and lungs, and the heel corresponds to the sciatic nerve and pelvic area.

How Does It Work?
Several theories exist to explain how reflexology works, although none have been scientifically verified. One theory holds that a vital energy flows along channels from the feet to the organs of the body, and that diseases are caused by blockages to this energy flow. By stimulating reflex points on the feet, these blockages are removed. This is similar to the theory behind traditional Chinese medicine, where acupoints are stimulated to improve the flow of qi (energy) to distant parts of the body. Another theory is that stimulation of reflex points on the feet triggers the release of natural painkilling chemicals in the brain (endorphins and monoamines). Some suggest that the relaxing effect of reflexology opens the blood vessels and improves circulation.

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What Happens During Treatment?
On the first visit to a reflexologist you will be asked about your general health and any specific problems you have. You will then be asked to remove your shoes and socks and recline on a padded table or chair. Your practitioner will examine your feet and gently massage them with talcum powder or lotion to prepare the feet for treatment. Your reflexologist will note any areas of tension in the foot which indicate problems in corresponding parts of the body. S/he will then apply pressure to those parts of the foot, treating one foot, then the other. Most reflexologists only work with the feet, a few also work with the hands. Your practitioner may teach you how to perform reflexology on yourself, showing you the appropriate reflex points to manipulate.

Sessions usually last for 30-60 minutes, and are scheduled once a week initially, then are spaced more widely to once every two weeks or once a month until the condition has cleared up.

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What Is It Used For?
Reflexology, as a complementary therapy, has been used to treat stress related ailments, as well as premenstrual tension, headaches, asthma, acne, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, digestive disorders, and chronic pain caused by conditions such as arthritis and sciatica. The relaxing effects of reflexology can also be beneficial for people suffering from major diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Side Effects/Cautions
If you have a foot injury, or ulcers, blood clots, thrombosis, phlebitis, or other vascular problems in your lower legs, check with your doctor before you have reflexology.

If you are pregnant, discuss treatment with your obstetrician and your reflexologist. Vigorous stimulation of the feet may cause uterine contractions.

Let the reflexologist know if you have a pacemaker, gallstones or kidney stones so s/he can avoid stimulating related parts of the feet.

Some short term side effects may include more frequent urination or bowel movements, and increased perspiration and secretions of mucus. These are related to the removal of toxins from the body and are nothing to worry about.

References

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Recommended Books

Prices are in US Dollars

 

Better Health With Foot Reflexology (10th ed)
Dwight C. Byers

Excellent training guide to conduct the Ingham Method of Foot Reflexology on yourself and others. This is a newly revised and expanded edition with large colour photos, much more educational material and there have been more foot reflexology techniques added. This book is an amazing source for one to learn about the body's functions and how all of the organs and glands can be manipulated through reflexology on the feet. Better Health With Foot Reflexology is a best-seller in the alternative health care industry today.

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HANDS ON FEET The New System That Makes Reflexology a Snap
Michelle R. Kluck

Understanding reflexology doesn't have to be difficult! In Hands on Feet, you'll find a complete history of reflexology, along with a list of the top 10 benefits of reflexology and descriptions of different reflexology techniques, such as kneading, thumb-walking, and finger-crossing. Also included is a pair of Reflexology Sox ™, the new revolutionary tool designed by massage therapist Michelle R. Kluck. These silky ultra-thin socks offer a map of the human body on the soles of your feet—and indicate exactly where you should press to affect certain parts of the body and alleviate ailments due to allergies, anxiety, depression, hangovers, headaches, migraines, PMS, and more!

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The Reflexology Manual: An Easy-To-Use Illustrated Guide to the Healing Zones of the Hands and Feet
Pauline Wills

Full-colour illustrations throughout. Detailed diagrams of pressure-point zones on the hands and feet. Clear explanations of how to work with the energy meridians. Ideal for beginners as well as experienced students of reflexology.
An ancient therapy used in China, Egypt, and India, reflexology provides effective, holistic treatment for both common and more serious disorders. According to reflexology, the hands and feet are microcosms of the body, containing points or zones that relate to individual glands, nerves, muscles, and organs. Reflexology harnesses the body's healing energy by stimulating specific pressure points on the hands and feet, alleviating the energy blocks that can cause pain or disability and restoring optimum health. In The Reflexology Manual, the practical text guides the reader in mastering these self-help techniques, and colour photographs illustrate a full reflexology treatment step by step.

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